Try to understand what other people think, and “why” they think that way. Even if you are convinced they are wrong, and they very well may be.

– from Lessons from My Father

It is far easier to judge and condemn others than it is to seek to understand their point of view. It’s far easier to not care about what they think. It’s also popular, everyone is doing it. It’s all over our society. We dismiss others because of their point of view. We despair their intelligence because of what they believe. We gang up and condemn them. We unfriend them. If they vote different, if they look different, we draw lines and separate. We split and never talk again. 

It may seem easy today to condemn others because of their point of view, but what’s the consequence? What’s the cost of condemning others? What’s the cost of not caring what they think?

If you only care about what you think, you may end up very lonely.

My dad constantly surprised me by the friends that he made and his willingness to accept people who had different views on pretty much everything.  Whether it waa politics, religion, lifestyle, you pick the topic, my dad was welcoming to those who believed different things than he did. He was genuinely interested in what they believed, and why they thought the way they thought. As for me, I have always leaned towards the opposite side of that spectrum, and it took me a lot of years to learn the wisdom of my dad’s approach.

Here are a couple of things to consider as you think about those in your life who believe unlike you.

Tip #1 – You don’t have to change your opinion, or beliefs to match their beliefs. 

Sounds profound, but we don’t have to agree with someone to associate with them and be their friend. You don’t have to come alongside. You probably have to put aside any argumentative tendencies. Which leads me to tip #2.

Tip #2 – Just listen. Don’t debate. 

You don’t have to debate them or convince them, you can just listen. It’s good to listen. When you are listening, try to understand why they believe what they do. Ask them to tell you more. Ask them why they think that. Again, you don’t have to agree, or even acknowledge that may agree. Just listen. I say “hmmm” a lot. 

Tip #3 – Let it go. 

Don’t take what they say personally. It’s what it is. Just let it go. If you feel angry by their perspective, just say “hmmm”. Say to yourself, “that’s interesting. I am upset about this point of view.” And let it go. 

What if you are right, and they are wrong? Still, just let it go. Let them be wrong. It’s not worth losing a friend over. Of coures I am assuming we aren’t talking about anything ilegal. That’s a topic for another time.

Tip #4 – One on one, not groups.

I find that one on one I can get along with almost anyone, regardless of how much I disagree with them. Groups are harder. The quality of the arguments in groups tends to devalue quickly into insulting the other perspective. 

Most people just need another friend, and it’s better to just listen to them to earn that friendship. You shouldn’t be surprised if they want to know your perspective and beliefs too.  Be ready to articulate your perspective, without adding insult to the opposite perspective. “Because they’re stupid”, is generally not a persuasive point to make, even if you are correct.

Try to understand what other people think, and “why” they think that way. Even if you are convinced they are wrong, and they very well may be. – from Lessons from My Father

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